Page images
PDF
EPUB

Now if this commiffion (here given to the apoftles, Matt. xxviii. 16, &c.) was to baptize with water, then Paul was inferior to the other apoftles for he, though he had feen the Lord, and was fent from him to open the eyes of the Gentiles; yet he was not sent to baptize with water, as he exprefsly faith he was not fent to baptize (that is, outwardly with water) but to preach the gospel. But if the baptifm intended by Chrift was inward and fpiritual, even into the name, virtue, life, and power of the Spirit, then Paul had the apoftolick commiffion as fully as any of the reft, and the grace and power of God did work as mightily in him to this end as in any of them.

[ocr errors]

But men are as much mistaken about the teaching required by this commiffion as about this baptifm: for this teaching is not a literal teaching of things, or a difcipline into an outward knowledge and way, but a teaching in the Spirit and power; and him whom God enableth fo to do, he alfo enableth to baptize into the fame Spirit and power. Yea, indeed, when the life and power minifters (the word spoken being mixed with faith in them that hear), it brings the earthly part under, and brings the life and power of the Lord Jefus Chrift over the heart and fpirit. And this is the true baptifm, and the fubftance of the figure or shadow, which was before the figure either of baptifm or circumcifion was, and remains when they are gone.

Object. 3. This baptifm in the commission was to all nations; but the baptism of the Spirit fell only on fome few at the beginning.

Anfw. The promife of receiving the Spirit is upon believing, and it extendeth to every one that believeth. He that believeth on me, as the fcripture hath faid, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: but this fpake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him fhould receive, John vii. 38, 39.

Answerably Peter faid to that great affembly to which he preached, whereof there were added about three thousand fouls, Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jefus Chrift, for the remiffion of fins, and ye fhall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God fhall call, Acts ii. 38, 39.

Indeed feveral gifts of the Spirit were given (fome to one, fome to another, according to the pleasure of the giver), and diverfities of manifeftations and operations of the fame inward life and power: but every one received fo much of the Spirit as to make him a fon, and to cry Abba Father, and to wash him.

And this is the one washing which all the flock are washed with, and fo baptized into the one, pure, living body: and this is the fubftance of the figure, which fubftance belongs to the gospel-ftate; though. God alfo law an use of fome figures in that day, and fo inclined their hearts then to make use of them, which his gathered fons and daughters (by the gospel

Spirit and power in this day) would make use of alfo, if the Lord did fo require them. For the Lord is our judge, and the Lord is our king, the Lord is our lawgiver; who by his Spirit and power determines in every age what he would have his people do; and who leads into the way of life, truth, and holiness, which always was and is but one and the fame for ever.

And what if the Lord, who hath caufed his everlasting day to dawn again, and the everlasting gospel to be preached again, will have every fhadow and figure to fly away (feeing they are but of one elementary nature and use, and not everlasting and abiding); who may gainfay him herein, and fay, that this is not the miniftration of the everlasting fubftance, or the fame gospel the apostles preached, because fome fhadows which they expect, and have a ftrong belief concerning, are not found therein?

Object. 4. The baptifm in this commiffion cannot be the baptism of the Spirit, because it is to be administered in the name of the Spirit.

Anfw. The Greek word is not iv, which fignifieth in; but is, which fignifieth into so that the baptifm here commanded is to baptize into the name, into the Father's name, into the Son's name, into the Spirit's name, by turning them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God; and then the power and life of God's Holy Spirit comes over their hearts and minds, and breaketh the power of Satan, and washeth their consciences from that which is dead, and plungeth or dippeth them into that which is living.

Now as God made them able ministers of the New Teftament (which is a fpiritual ministry, an inward ministry), and gave them the heavenly treafure of life and of his Spirit to minifter with; fo he required and expected of them the work of the fpiritual miniftry, which was the fpiritual teaching and spiritual baptizing into the inward name.

But that there was alfo a baptizing with outward water, that I do not deny; and that it was of ufe, as a type to the weak and ceremonious ftate the Jews were in (when Chrift fent forth his apoftles to gather them out of the law-ftate into the gofpel-ftate) I am also fatisfied in: but it hath been fince corrupted, and fet up above its place by apoftates; and every one fhould confider and wait on the Lord, to know what God requires and will accept of him. For the kingdom of God ftands not in meats or drinks, or any outward washings, nor comes in the way of man's obfervation, but in an heavenly feed, and in the Holy Spirit and power of life; which, happy are they who are made partakers of, baptized with, and led by. God will try every man's religion, work and practices, by the true reed or measuring line: bleffed is he whofe religion will bear that trial!

It is a great matter to know the gospel-ftate and miniftration, the gofpelSpirit and power, the gofpel-church and ordinances, the words of the holy prophets concerning the day of the gospel, the words of Christ concerning

the

[ocr errors]

the kingdom and power of God, the words of the apostles concerning the mystery of faith, and the Word which was from the beginning.

Thefe are weighty things, and of great concernment, about which men may easily mifs and wreft the fcriptures, unless they be enlightened by the Lord in the renewing of their minds, and their eye kept to the holy anointing, that they may not out-run (and fo imagine and conceive of themselves according to their own ability of understanding), but know and keep to the gift and infpiration of the Almighty, which giveth true understanding. For as no man knoweth the mind of a man, but man's own spirit within him; fo the mind of God (in the words which his Spirit fpake), no man knoweth but his Spirit. And there is a key of knowledge to open the words of fcripture by, which they cannot be opened without; I mean, fuch fcriptures as relate to the mystery of life and falvation, which was always hid from the wife and prudent in every age.

The pharifees had got a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the law of God, and prophefies of things to come, from the words of Mofes and the prophets; but they had not the key of knowledge; and so they erred, not knowing the fcriptures (notwithstanding all their diligent reading and studying them), nor the power of God.

Every one had need be wary left he err after the fame manner, and so set up his own apprehenfions from the fcriptures, inftead of God's truth and the mind of his Holy Spirit; for then he cannot but also oppose that which is indeed his truth, and truly agreeable to the scriptures, though to man's mif-biaffed judgment it may feem different or contrary.

The Lord beget in peoples hearts true defires after himself, and guide them into the way wherein they may obtain all the defires of their fouls, which he begets in them; and the Lord preferve all that fear him, from clashing against the prefent difpenfation of his life and power in their day and generation!

The pharifees little thought they would have killed the prophets, had they lived in their days: nay, they greatly condemned their fathers for fo doing; and yet they themselves crucified Chrift. And many now little think they would have crucified Chrift, had they lived in the days of his flesh; and yet they disdain, reproach, and perfecute the appearance of the fame Spirit, life and power, as it now appeareth in his faints, whom he hath redeemed and dwelleth in, and in whom he manifefteth himself, preacheth and suffereth, whatever men think of them.

Oh! blessed are they that are not offended in Chrift, in the prefent appearance of his life and power! For they are not offended at him who gives life in the Father's name to all that receive him and wait upon him, and worship in the quickenings and virtue of his Spirit.

XXI. Some

XXI.

Some Questions answered, concerning the Gentiles doing by Nature the Things contained in the Law; and fo fhewing the Work of the Law written in their Hearts, Rom. ii. 14, 15.

Quest. 1. Y what nature did the Gentiles the things contained in the law? By the enlightened or unenlightened nature? By nature, as it lieth corrupted in the fall, or by nature in fome measure renewed by the light of God's Spirit fhining in the heart? And by what covenant was the law written in their hearts? Is not the writing of the law in the heart a promife of the new covenant? And can it be writ in any heart, but by virtue of the new covenant? Is not the leaft writing of the law in the heart a degree of the promise? For the old covenant contains only the law in the letter; but the new covenant contains the writing of the law in the heart by the Spirit.

Anfw. The apoftle had fhewed before, that that which might be known of God was manifeft in them, for God had fhewed it unto them; fo that they had a manifeftation of the light of God's Spirit in them, whereby they might difcern his eternal power and godhead, in or by the things made; for that which is vifible fhadows out and declares that which is invisible, which the inward eye fees, being opened by the Lord..

Now their hearts being joined to this manifeftation of God within, it changeth the heart and nature; and in the changed heart and nature, God writes his law; and the law being writ in any measure in the heart, it hath fome power upon man, to cause him to fubject to it, and anfwer what God requires of him thereby; and fo his heart and confcience will accufe him, or excuse him, as he is found anfwering or rebelling against the holy light and law of God's Spirit within, manifefting the will of God unto him. For God, though he peculiarly chofe the Jews, and in that fenfe had caft off the Gentiles, not choofing them fo to be his peculiar people, yet he was not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles alfo; and had a care of their precious fouls, vifiting them with that light, and inward manifeftation of his Spirit, which was able to fave and deliver them from the darkness. And it is teftified, they came thus far by this inward manifestation of God in their hearts, and what God had fhewed them thereby, that they knew God, Rom. i. 21. They had a true knowledge of God from the light within; they had a measure of the pure and heavenly gift: but they were not thankful for fo great a gift, in their dark ftate; and when they came to fome true knowledge, did not glorify God, according to what they knew of the Lord, from the light of his Spirit within; but ran out from the measure of the gift into imaginations, into the conceivings of their own wifdom; and this brought darkness upon them, and gave deceit power over their hearts,

Now,

Now, if they had not profeffed themselves to be wife, but kept low to the manifeftation of God's Spirit, and denied their own wifdom, they might have been truly wife; but running out from the measure of the gift, into their own wisdom and thoughts, they became fools as to the true wildom, and wandered into grofs idolatrous conceptions, and brought great judg ments from God upon themselves. And this was their condemnation (not that the light of God had not fhone in their hearts; not that that which might be known of God was not manifeft in them; but) that they loved their own dark wisdom, thoughts, and conceivings, more than the manifeftation of the light of God's Spirit within.

Queft. 2. But if God was the God of the Gentiles, and thus vifited them, were any of them faved thereby? Did not all the Gentiles univerfally perish, notwithstanding this light, or manifeftation of God's Spirit within?

Anfw. God forbid, that the inward manifeftation of his light and visitation of his Holy Spirit, fhould be of no effect to none of the Gentiles; but that they should all perish notwithstanding it! It is teftified here, that fome of them came fo far as to have their nature changed, fo that they were a law to themselves, and did by nature the things contained in the law; which it is impoffible for corrupt fallen man to do. And these hearkening to that, and following that which led them thus far, could not chufe but like to retain God in their knowledge, which the generality (who followed their own wisdom) did not; whereupon God gave them over to a reprobate mind,

ver. 28.

But now, thofe that had the law written in their hearts, and answered it, fearing God, and working righteousness, and liking to retain God in their knowledge, fuch God did not give up to a reprobate mind, but kept them favoury to himself, and made them more and more partakers of the true and inward circumcifion; fo that their want of outward circumcifion was no hinderance to them as to acceptance with God, but their uncircumcifion went with God for circumcifion.

And this their state (from the inward life and power) judged the Jew, who boasted so much of his ftate, because of the letter of the law, and outward circumcifion, Rom. ii. 26, 27. Yea, this ftate fhall be justified by God, when God cometh to judge the fecrets of men by Jefus Chrift, according to my Gospel, faid Paul, ver. 16. Jefus Chrift is the judge, who will justify whatever his Spirit hath made known of God the Father in the hearts of the Gentiles, and them in their fense thereof, and fubjection thereto.

That man who hath bowed to the Spirit, been taught by the Spirit (having had the law of God written in his heart), and learned obedience in the new nature, fo as to do the things contained in the law, and hath received the inward circumcifion, which cutteth off, teacheth to deny, and keep down that which is corrupt; which will never answer the law, nor fuffer the man in whom it rules to answer it; I fay, he that cometh into the sense of God's Spirit, and the law thereof, and into the denial of his own spirit,

he

« PreviousContinue »